Traditional Madeleines

This week’s recipe was chosen by Tara of Smells Like Home. I was so excited to see that Madeleines were chosen, as I have been wanting to try them for some time now. After a quick trip to Williams Sonoma to get my pan, I was all set to whip up these delicate, French tea cookies. I found these to be incredibly easy to make – the batter was a cinch to whip together, then a chill in the fridge and filling the pan mold, and into the oven for a short 11 minutes.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t love these. While the texture was very nice, spongey and light, I am not a fan of lemon so I wasn’t thrilled with the overall taste and my overall feeling was just “eh”. All in all, this is a nice delicate cookie, but I would opt for a muffin, scone or biscotti to pair with my hot beverage of choice. Even though Dorie states that these are best eaten the day that they are made (and even, warm from the oven), I would have to respectfully disagree. I thought they were significantly better after a night’s rest in an airtight container.

Traditional Madeleines

Yield: Makes 12 large or 36 mini cookies

Prep Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 8 to 13 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Ingredients:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions:

1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

2. Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

3. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. (my silicone needed the prep) Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.

4. Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven's heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

5. If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.

6. Just before serving, dust the madeleines with confectioners' sugar.

Serving: Serve the cookies when they are only slightly warm or when they reach room temperature, with tea or espresso.

Storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, the madeleines should be eaten soon after they are made. You can keep them overnight in a sealed container, but they really are better on day 1. If you must store them, wrap them airtight and freeze them; they'll keep for up to 2 months.

(Source: Dorie Greenspan "Baking: From My Home to Yours" pages 166-168)